Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 13, Number 35 | August 26, 2012
Every government puts value on preserving its history. That is why we have national archives. Genealogy preserves history; the history of a family. It cannot be done without access to records, just as historians cannot preserve a nation's history without access to records. It is a greater good than the right to privacy. It is a greater good than the risk of identity theft.
Brochure Published About the Vel d’Hiv Roundup
Most of us learn history from history books, that is, summaries of what historians interpreted from looking at the original works that record the events which they are describing. Rarely does the reader of history get to see the actual documents from which historians gave their interpretation of what happened.
Last month was the 70th anniversary of what became known as the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. On July 16–17, 1942, more than 13,000 Jews of Paris and its suburbs were arrested and brought to the Vélodrome d'Hiver (Winter Velodrome). They were subsequently sent to internment camps including Drancy, Pithiviers and Beaune-la-Rolande and ultimately deported to concentration camps, primarily Auschwitz, where most were murdered. These arrests were made by the Paris police.
The event is well reported in many history books and on the Internet. Now an organization known as Histoire et Mémoire du 3e Arrondissement de Paris (History and Memory of the Third District of Paris) in cooperation with the Paris Prefecture of Police Archives has published a 48-page brochure titled La Rafle du Vélodrome D’Hiver (The Vel' d'Hiv Roundup). The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) has placed it on their website as a PDF file at http://www.iajgs.org/jgscv/pdf/HM3_brochure.pdf.
The brochure includes a number of original documents and memos regarding the roundup. The callousness of the Paris police is evident throughout the documents. One complained about the difficulty of flushing out (débusquer) Jewish businesses because many were operated from homes.
Arrest Orders. Most significant is a seven-page typed report dated July 13, 1942, describing in detail the planned arrests and how they were to be executed. It starts on page 7 of the PDF file. The report indicates that only Jews of the following nationalities were to be arrested: German, Austrian, Polish, Russian, Czech and stateless. There were exceptions: women who were clearly pregnant or nursing babies, Jews married to non-Jews with proof they are legitimately married and proof their spouse is not Jewish. There were other categories. Explicit instructions were given regarding how arrests were to be made. For example, they were to be made as quickly as possible without “a useless word and without comment.” The report described how many personnel were to participate by district (arrondissement) and how many buses were to be assigned to each district to transport the Jews to Vel' d'Hiv. Toward the end of the report, there is an estimate of the number of Jews living in each of the 20 districts of Paris and each of the suburbs. The total amounted to about 27,000.
Problems Implementing Orders. Page 16 is a handwritten memo dated July 16, 1942, which states:
The operation against the Jews has now been started since this morning at 4am.(Click on image for larger view)
It is slowed down because of many special cases:
Many men left their homes yesterday;
Some women stayed with a very young infant or with several [infants].
Others refused to open the door and there is the need to call a locksmith.
In the 20th and 11th districts, there are several thousands of Jews, the process is very slow.
At 7.30 am the P.M. [could mean Municipal Police] advises that 10 buses have arrived at the Vel d’Hiv.
(Added at end: at 9 am 4044 arrests)
Number Arrested. Page 22 is a memo dated July 21, 1942, indicating the number of Jews arrested.
The collection operations of Jews in process since July 16 amounted yesterday at 5pm to
A total of 13,152 arrests
Conclusion of Action. Page 26 is a brief memo
The Vel d’Hiv is now evacuated.
Remains 50 sick Jews and some lost items. The whole lot were sent to Drancy.
Records of Genealogical Value. The brochure demonstrates that the Prefecture of Police archives has a number of collections of genealogical value (pages 28–45). In 1947, the French government ordered the destruction of all records pertaining to the discrimination of Jews and others during the Vichy period (see page 3 of the PDF file), but for some unknown reason some survived.
Wikipedia has a lengthy description of the Vel d’Hiv Roundup at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vel%27_d%27Hiv_Roundup.
Paris Prefecture of Police Archives To Be Online in 2015
The Paris Prefecture of Police has started digitizing its archives dating back to and including World War II with plans to make the records available to the public by 2015. The records will eventually be placed online.
The archives contains 200,000 documents—primarily denouncement letters and police interrogations—which by law are unavailable for 75 years. This means as early as 2015 and continuing to 2019, documents of the World War II era will be released.
The complete announcement, in French, can be found at http://tinyurl.com/ParisPolice.
Avotaynu Anthology of Jewish Genealogy
We have changed the name of Back Issues of AVOTAYNU 1985–2011 to Avotaynu Anthology of Jewish Genealogy. Why? Because it more accurately describes what is being offered. It is an anthology because the scope of the articles cover virtually every aspect of Jewish family history research as can be seen from "Number of articles by topic" shown below.
Number of articles by topic:
We have also changed the pricing. Instead of an annual charge, the cost to access the past 27 years of AVOTAYNU articles (about 2,900 articles) is a one-time charge of $35.00. When we update the database, which will be every two or three years, there will be an update charge to access the extra issues which will be something substantially less that $35.00.
Gain access to the Anthology now! Additional information, including how to order is at http://avotaynu.com/books/anthology.htm.
FamilySearch Completes 1940 Census Project
FamilySearch now has completed their indexing of the 1940 census. All states are searchable.
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